JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - There is no basis for the Jonesboro Police Department to be part of a lawsuit filed by a family in connection with an April 2015 incident at a home on Walnut Street, attorneys representing the city said in a filing in federal court Thursday.
In the 11-page filing in United States District Court in Jonesboro, attorneys C. Burt Newell and Ralph C. Ohm argue that the Jonesboro Police Department should not be part of the lawsuit filed by the family of Grant Finley.
According to authorities, Finley was shot and killed in April 2015 during the incident on Walnut Street.
Finley's family filed suit March 30 in federal court, alleging that the unreasonable seizure of Chris Finley violated his 4th and 14th Amendment rights; failure to instruct, supervise, control and discipline directed against the city of Jonesboro and violating Finley's civil rights.
The suit names Officer Heath Loggains, Jonesboro Police Chief Rick Elliott and several other unidentified officers who are named in court paperwork as "John and Jane Does," officials said earlier this month.
However, both Newell and Ohm said in the filing Thursday that the city's police department is separate from the city.
"There is no statute or ordinance making the Jonesboro Police Department a legal entity separate from the city of Jonesboro itself. Since the Jonesboro Police Department is not a legal entity and, as such, cannot be sued, the purported service of process by delivering a copy of a Summons and Complaint is without legal effect," Newell and Ohm wrote. "It is a universal rule that a civil action can be maintained only against a legal entity or legal 'person.'" In any suit, there must be a real Defendant, whether that Defendant is a natural or an artificial person."
The attorneys also argue that case law prohibits the police department from being subject to the suit.